Review by Chris Smith, Enthusiast: Runco 947


Gregg was at our place yesterday to calibrate our Runco 947 CRT FP thrown to a 110″. We’ve had it ~ 2 years and I’ve always thought it provided a great picture, but I knew there were areas that could be improved. I was aware that the geometry was off in spots and that the convergence needing touching up. After seeing Mike’s Mits in the Spring, we decided to give Gregg a call and get him to our place.

Gregg got there somewhere between 12:30 and 1:00. I had turned the projector on about 11:00 or so, so it had been warming up for a good while, which I know is important for these to get a good calibration out of them.

Gregg starts with the DVD input by running through the test patterns and notices that our gemoetry is off by quite a bit in areas. We had bows here and bends there and the entire image was shifted off axis a little bit. Gregg broke out some tape and string and measured to get the screen to be acurate. He succeeded in getting all of the bends and bows out of it and now the lines are perfectly straight. He attempted to center it on the screen exactly, but due to the fact that it had not been centered for almost 2 years, he was worried about showing the burn in on the tubes if he raster shifted the image. So the image is shifted to the right about .5 cm which I can live with (you’d never notice it, even if you KNEW it was there.)

Then he fixed the grey scale. We were pretty close in the middle of the spectrum, but the edges were WAY off. I’ll post the actual graphs that he printed out later, after I get them from him in electronic form. It’s pretty dead on now. He then ran through the convergance and fixed everything there.

Next he took on the HD input. This has never been setup correctly, and in truth, it’s been so bad lately we haven’t really watched much HD on that TV. The images were ALL over the place and convergence was shot to hell. He had to basically start from scratch to fix this image, and I have to say, it looks amazing now.

After Gregg was done the HD input, we broke out the Superbit 5th Element disc and he started walking us through many of the shots. He was showing us detail in the blacks that I would have never seen or even think to look for, but it was showing us how great the projector could really look. YOu could see wrinkles in Willis’s Tux Tie during the Opera scene and the flesh tones were great. Just absolutly stunning.

After Gregg left we were watching some HD of HBO (Captian Ron, if you’d like to know) and it looked awesome. We then compared the HD feed to the DVD my Dad had and it was hard to tell the difference. The DVD looked so incredible that while the HD input was a tad better and a tad less grainy, I knew that we were missing on our DVD input for a long time. We watched The Core later that night and it just looked incredible. Little things that I used to notice (a slight blue or red ting to a white word or a slight bow to a straight line) were gone. And the detail that you could now see was amazing.

If you have a big screen projection TV, you owe it to yourself and your TV to get it calibrated. And I can’t recommend Gregg enough.

Review by Robert George “Obi” Obi’s Reviews, Enthusiast: Mitsubishi WS65411

This is a cautionary tale of a would-be videophile who once though he knew “enough” about setting up a video monitor. “Good enough” has been good enough for a long time, that is, until now. “Good enough” is nowhere near good enough, it turns out, now that this erstwhile DIY’er has now been weighed and measured, and found wanting. First, the history.

My first large screen rear projection TV was a 50″ Pioneer in a huge walnut cabinet back in 1989. By then, consumer projection had reached the point that very nice large screen images could be had at home. Even so, it was only a matter of weeks before I had the front access panel off and my hands probing regions that I had no business at the time probing. After making a couple of mistakes that required professional intervention, I was well on the road to near obsessive tweaking.

I read all about the Imaging Science Foundation from the very beginnings of the organization. At the time I bought my first big screen and laserdisc player, there was no such thing as “professional calibration”. Even after Joe Kane’s tutelage with the first edition of Video Essentials on laserdisc and the great reputation ISF calibration quickly achieved in the enthusiast community, I still felt I could make my TV look “good enough”. That attitude has not abated in the intervening years and now, five successively larger RPTVs later, I sit in front of a new 65″ Mitsubishi (WS-65411). By this time, tweaking has become second nature. Service menus are child’s play, and in the case of the new Mits, I have even used a computer and special interface to reprogram the internal EEPROM in the TV to correct the factory-set color bias toward red in the color decoder. “Good enough” never looked so good. Indeed, this new Mits has been coaxed into producing a better picture than the Pioneer Elite model it replaced, and at a third the cost. Still, I was finally having that nagging feeling there was more to it. With the new Mits also comes true High Definition video for the first time at the Obiplex. HD is a whole new thing and I decided it was time to call in a pro.

While I have considered ISF calibration in the past, it was never an easy thing to do as I live in one of those many small to medium size towns that exist in that great expanse of America between the big cities. Fortunately for people like me, an enterprising group of ISF-trained video calibrators have found their living mining these small dots on the map with regular road trips to bring the benefits of proper video calibration to those many of us that prefer the slower pace outside the concrete canyons. Then there was the issue of who would I trust with my latest investment in home cinema heaven. The Internet forums have been rife with horror stories for years of calibrations costing many hundreds of dollars that were botched. It seems not all ISF-certified knob-turners are created equal. My task of locating a calibrator that I would actually trust with my TV was made easier because it turns out one of the most highly recommended calibrators that makes road trips is someone I have met and trust. Gregg Loewen of Lion AV is my kind of calibrator. Not some jack-leg TV tech turned calibrator just to make the big bucks, Gregg started out as a home theater enthusiast first then turned to professional calibration out of his desire to make his own TV look better. Like me. Gregg got the call.

I expected some benefit from a professional calibration, at least for the HD input on my TV as that was one area I had virtually ignored beyond correcting the “red push” and some tweaking of size, centering, and convergence. What I didn’t expect was how far off some of what I had done turned out to be. In all fairness to me, some of my settings were such that Gregg didn’t even mess with them. These were in the setup of the 480i/p inputs. My geometry and convergence were virtually spot-on, at least as far as it went. It didn’t go far enough.

Technically, ISF calibration deals only with setting the grayscale of a video display, that is, adjusting the levels of the individual colors to achieve the proper color of gray, also known as setting color temperature. Gregg’s basic calibration goes far beyond just setting grayscale to include adjusting for optimal geometry and convergence, adjusting and “centering” the user controls for brightness, contrast, tint, color, and sharpness, turning off Scan Velocity Modulation, and adjusting both mechanical and electrostatic focus on projection sets. Gregg even applies the rather esoteric procedure known as “lens striping”. Using the color analyzer, color readings are taken at the far left and right sides of the screen. On rear projection TVs, the inherent color imbalance from one side to the other can be relatively dramatic due to the basic design using three separate “guns” in a row aimed at a center point. This can be all but alleviated by “blocking” a small portion of one or more of the projection lenses at the right spot to give even color balance across the entire screen. I observed a major improvement in flat field uniformity when Gregg striped the lenses on my set.

My biggest surprise came with setting the color temperature. Surprise because only a few weeks ago a friend brought over a color analyzer and laptop computer running the Color Facts software that Gregg also uses. We had set what we thought was proper color temperature. As it turns out, we had achieved a fairly linear temperature tracking albeit about 500 degrees Kelvin too low. Even worse, we had done nothing about the overall light output and color tracking and these parameters were totally whacked. Light output was nearly three times what it should have been and color tracking across the scale was way off. Attached below is a .pdf file showing the before/after readings for chromacity coordinates, color tracking, and temperature tracking.

Calibration Summary
(Ignore the lower end of the scale. The readings below 30 IRE are not accurate and the Color Facts software prints this way.)

Another surprise was the state of focus. I have read in more than one forum that the newer Mitsubishi TVs are supposed to have relatively good focus “out-of-the-box”. As such, I did not go to the trouble of messing with focus. Indeed, I was seeing what appeared to be a very sharp, very detailed image. Wrongo! Visible improvements were made in the focus of all three guns and this seems to be one of the more apparent improvements overall. With tighter focus, convergence error appears to be reduced even further and there is noticeably less color fringing. Needless to say, the images on this TV, both SD and HD, are cleaner, sharper, and more detailed than before. In fact, taken as a whole, this exceptional calibration has taken what I felt was a very good RPTV and made it jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Colors are wonderfully saturated and I have never seen such accuracy from a consumer TV. Blacks are deep and velvety with no trace of residual color yet shadow detail is even better than before. That is probably the most difficult aspect of a proper calibration to get used to, the light output. Yes, the image is darker, but it is also more detailed and one can see more in dark areas, not less. Of course, control of ambient light in the room becomes even more of an issue with the reduced light output of the calibrated image, but this is a small price to pay for such incredible accuracy and subjective beauty that can be achieved with a proper calibration. I have spent the past week poring over disc after disc marveling at the major improvements in the quality of what I once thought were “reference” quality discs.

Reference quality software deserves a reference quality display. As more and more people bring the beauty of high definition video into their homes and home theaters, the quality of the display device becomes even more important. My experience with Gregg Loewen was 100% positive and I give both Gregg and his services my highest recommendation. Every TV I will own in the future will be professionally calibrated. Even if Lion AV is not your choice, professional calibration should be. Hey, you may have just dropped two, three, four thousand dollars, or more, on a new HDTV. You owe it to yourself to make it perform at the peak of its potential. There is only one way to get that and that is with a full and proper calibration.

Review by Mike Knapp, Owner, Mitsubishi WS-65857 RPTV

Wednesday evening I had ISF calibrator Gregg Loewen over to tune up my Mitsubishi set. I already had the geometry, over scan and focus set but I don’t have a colorimeter and I wanted my gray-scale to be accurate. Also there is a known red push on my model Mitsubishi that cannot be corrected without some computer work being done to it. Gregg was aware of this and equipped for it so I asked if he would be kind enough to stop by on his vacation swing through Florida and hook me up with a better image.

I’m glad I did!

As I suspected the gray scale was good in the upper ranges but was off in the nether regions. I was getting dark blacks but they had a bit of a blue tint to them. Add the red push already in the TV and I wound up with a slightly purple gray scale. While this was still pleasing to the eye it was not accurate and needed to be adjusted.

Gregg went to work right away while the TV was warming up checking the geometry and over scan. He chuckled a little because he saw that I had hash marks all around the perimeter of the screen that I had used to attach string in the proper positions and do the geometry adjustments myself. I guess he found my settings accurate enough because he didn’t need to mess with the geometry, focus, or the over scan. Now for the fun part. He whipped out a laptop and copied all the data from the “brain” in the TV, corrected some of the values that were causing the red push and then re-wrote the correct data into the brain. PRESTO! No more red push.

I had corrected the red issue for my DVD playback with an attenuator that I had made, but it was only good for the component input and not the HD input. With this adjustment he corrected the red problem for all the inputs quickly and permanently. I will say that he didn’t want to “shoot the bull” during this process, I guess I was getting a little chatty and he reminded me that he needed to concentrate on what he was doing. I looked at the computer screen and saw the program he was using, all the data on the screen and the list he was working from to get the correct data and decided to do as Dr. Evil suggested to his son…zip it!

With that out of the way he taped his color reading gizmo to the TV (Don’t worry, it was not taped to the screen) to read my gray-scale measurements. He took the time to explain to me what he was doing and why, he walked me through the program showing me where each level was and where it should be. Then he ran the test patterns and began the adjustments. Next thing I knew he whipped out a printer and printed up the results. I have an image of the gray-scale settings pre and post calibration printed on some card stock with his name and number on it! That was a really neat trick.

He carried on his magic while I watched. He set the correct brightness, contrast, sharpness, saturation and tint and then made the TV controls for these adjustments be in the center position of my on-screen sliders. So now, if anyone ever mucks with the settings, all I need to do is return them to the center position (except the sharpness control) and they will be back in the properly calibrated positions. This is a great thing to have done and I cannot stress how happy I was that he did this. Good thinking on his part there.

So, how are the results?

My image already looked incredible before he began. Now it looks stupendous. Flesh tones are dead on and the color renditions across the spectrum are greatly improved. The best way to describe it is that the colors look pure now. My litmus test has always been yellow. The yellow bars on the color patterns when I look at a TV always look a tad on the orangish side to me. The yellow in my set was the best I had seen on a non-calibrated set prior to the adjustments being done. It is now the best I have ever seen period. It is absolute yellow. No orange, no green.just yellow. Also my blacks got better. How can blacks get better you ask? Well before I had a deep dark black in my image. The picture was not lacking punch. But now, I still see the darkest black areas like before but the gradations between the black and whites have more discernable steps. I see more shadow detail than before. Things that were once lost to the deepest black suddenly appear and have distinction. It was like someone changed a light from a 40 watt to a 100 watt bulb. I still have the deep blacks but I can see into them more clearly now.

I would have to say that even though my set looked great before, it looks a good 30% better now. I had worked on mine for quite some time and I am no rookie to adjusting TVs. Some things simply must be adjusted by instrument to be precise. Youy aren’t going to get there by eye. Even if you have put the time and effort into your set that I had, and especially if you are just watching it out of the Gregg and get him to your town now! This goes for anyone that thinks their set is as good as it can get.I promise you it isn’t. This made a considerable difference in my display and Gregg was meticulous in his craft. He paid attention to every detail and was conscientious about his surroundings and the equipment and could not have been more professional in his behavior. It was a pleasure to have his hands in my display device. I highly recommend anyone wanting to have an ISF calibration to contact Gregg and try to set up a visit. I know he will travel to specific locations if you get a few people together to make it worth his while.

Get this done, and use Gregg to do it. Contact Gregg and tell him I sent you!


Review by Ron Epstein, Owner: Toshiba 57HX81

Ron Epstein, Owner
Toshiba 57HX81 Owner

About 2-3 months ago I purchased a brand new Toshiba 57HX81 television under the recommendation of Toshiba owners who said this was the best looking RPTV for the buck.

No kidding! When I took this baby out of the box it looked incredible even before I made my
own personal calibrations. Colors looked awesome, and I was just awestruck by a picture that rivaled what I had seen on more expensive sets I had been considering.

I wanted to break the television in a little more before I considered having it ISF calibrated. After two months of heavy use, I invited Gregg Loewen to come to my home.

Gregg is on his way to becoming ISF certified. (Editor’s note: Gregg attended the ISF class in March of 2002. As of June 2003, Gregg has calibrated more than 500 display devices).
He is currently offering his services in New England, Eastern Canada and elsewhere by request. Equipped with a color analyzer and high definition signal generator, Gregg has been doing professional ISF calibrations for less cost than other professionals in his field.

I picked Gregg up at the airport. He brought along some extra baggage that included his laptop computer, a printer, and all sorts of calibration tools.

My biggest mistake was not taking pictures, which I had originally planned to do, but forgot about once I got involved in watching Gregg work.

Gregg began our calibration session by sitting down and talking to me about my particular set and how it differs from others. Gregg has a clear knowledge of many different brands of televisions, with expertise in Mitsubishi and Toshiba. He explained the red push on the Mitsubishi’s and the way that set gets calibrated as opposed to the Toshiba.

Gregg also gave me a thorough preview discussion on what he was planning to do with my television as well as the changes I should expect as a result of the calibrations.

After warming up my television, Gregg did some pre-tuning to my set that included pre front panel adjustments, disconnecting of SVM, electronic and manual focus. Next thing I knew, He placed a suction cup sensor on my television which sent readings back to his laptop computer. I believe what he was doing was getting readings on overall color temperature that would ultimately be tune to an even 6500.

When Gregg insisted that my outer glare screen be removed, I was a bit hesitant to let him do it. I wasn’t as much as concerned about the safety of my television’s inner screen as I was about the glossy look that I liked. Gregg explained that the outer screen was only adding artificial enhancements to my picture and that I should have it removed.

Well, sure enough, the removal of the outer protective screen made a remarkable difference in picture quality resulting in a more natural look.

With the screen removed, Gregg showed me my three picture guns which were loose. He explained that this was common, mostly caused by the shipping of the sets and the ignorance of manufacturers to properly tighten them. Gregg had a particularly inventive way of focusing each of the picture guns with the TV screen attached. I could immediately
see a sharper image coming into view.

For the next 5 hours, Gregg performed a multitude of adjustments including: Geometry and overscan adjustments, Grey Scale adjustments, Geometry and convergences — and most interestingly — lense stripping where he placed a bit of black electrical tape over my picture guns in order to bring the color temperature to proper range (which it most
certainly did).

My overall thoughts on television calibration

For all the years I have owned a big screen television, I had always felt that I could get by with calibrating the set using Video Essentials. Keep in mind that I did my own  pre-calibrations using VE.

While I certainly feel that the above methods of simple self-calibration results in a remarkable improvement to your video and audio — there are further improvements that only a professional can do.

Looking at the pre and post calibration graphs that Gregg printed out for me, I could see the huge improvements that were made to my television after 5 hours of analyzation and adjustments. The most immediate improvement was the sharpness of my picture as well as the improved warmth of the colors across the entire viewing area.

I can only sum up the fruits of his efforts by saying my TV picture looks friggin’ awesome! I
popped in Gladiator and was just blown away with how sharp and detailed the picture looked. The blacks were even blacker than before, but yet, in the dark scenes of Saving Private Ryan I could see the emblems on the uniforms of the soldiers. My eye-candy treat came when I popped in Moulin Rouge. My jaw was just hanging while I watched vivid, precise colors flash across my screen.

Anyone, like myself, who had believed that spending a few hundred dollars to have a television properly calibrated was senseless, should know that I just has by senses knocked out of me.

There is absolutely no question that anyone who has invested good money in the purchase of a large screen television, has wasted their investment if they don’t have their picture and audio properly calibrated. It’s amazing to see that what your eyes tend to believe is the best picture you can get from self-calibration, can often be proven deceiving when you see how much BETTER that picture can be after a professional calibration.

I fully expect a few more people who also had their sets calibrated this past week (Gregg did 4 sets in 3 days) to chime in their praise, as I had the opportunity to hear their comments about the overall improvement to their televisions.

It’s good to see that people like Gregg Loewen are bringing some much needed  competition to the market by doing professional calibrations at a more reasonable cost than what is normally charged.

Ronald J Epstein

Home Theater Forum co-owner

Review by Robbie Carman, Colorist And Author: Panasonic 50PZ800U Plasma, Toshiba 32RV530U LCD Panel, JVC DT-V1710CG Studio Reference CRT Monitor

Robbie Carman,
Colorist And Author
Panasonic 50PZ800U Plasma
Toshiba 32RV530U LCD Panel
JVC DT-V1710CG Studio Reference CRT Monitor

While not Color specfic I thought I just make a quick mention of something I invested in last week.

I have quite a few displays in my facility and one of the things thats always irritated me was getting reference monitors and client monitors matching. Of course different display technologies make it even more challenging

For years I have fiddled with different calibration tools and methods for getting all of our displays to match. Well I finally bit the bullet and hired a calibration engineer to come in calibrate all of our displays.

I hired Lion AV. Gregg Loewen the owner came out to do our calibrations. Gregg is and ISF and THX certified calibrator, in fact he is the lead instructor for THX and their calibration services. The thing that attracted me to Gregg and Lion AV was that he splits his time between consumer and professional calibrations so he has a much time on professional hi end CRTs as he does your Costco LCD.

Using the latest in calibration tools i.e. 30k probe and signal generators Gregg Spent about 60min per display. I was pleased to see that I was pretty close (about 95%) to SMPTE and THX standards but by getting into service menus and such it was amazing to get grayscale and luma output perfect on the displays.

Additionally, we were able to measure and adjust surround lighting to suggested reference. Turns out I was pumping out about 20 more foot lamberts then is ideal.

Now each display in our studio matches (as good a they can for different display technologies) and I can finally rest assured that I’m accurate with each and every correction across multiple displays.

I’ll admit I was hesitant laying out a pretty big chunk of change (about $350 per display) but in the end it was money really well spent.

Review by Mr Logs – Baltimore Sony 52XBR5 LCD Flat Panel – November 2007

Just a comment..I was sorta wondering if having my 52XBR5 would really make a difference..the answer was..yes indeed..I thought it “looked good” before….but I think there’s a difference between just looking good..and looking realistic..I had my Sony LCD calibrated by Gregg Loewen this past Wednesday..and I really gotta make’s a big difference!..The stuff look’s “real” looking thru a window..I was watching the show NCIS..and when a car went into the Potomac River (yuk!)..the underwater scenes looked real, murkiness & all..alomg with the fine sediment that was in the water. The actors faces looked “real” too..not like I was watching a brilliant TV screen with brilliant fleshtone colors… it worth it?…if you want to see the real deal..yes it is..worth every penny! Again..just an opinion from a satisfied customer!

Review by Mitch, Hartford Mitsubishi WD-52725 DLP rear projector

I would like to say it was great to meet you yesterday and thanks.  I thought that my set played great before, but after your callibration I think it’s better.

Since I  have  plenty of time with no one around I’ve seen a couple of movies and the pitcure from the dvd is much better than before.  If you ever need a reference please don’t hesitate to call.  Again, thanks for the great work

Review by Jim Samsung DLP Owner in Maine

I too own an HL-R5067W. I had it calibrated by Greg at Lion AV. The difference is nothing short of phenomenal. I new it was fabulous but I had it confirmed last week. My brother in law just got the same tv. We are both connected to Time Warner cable via HDMI in the same neighborhood. Now I can really see the diiference. My PQ is much clearer. There is no noise in comparison. Colors are much better and noise is vastly reduced, He keeps asking why my TV looks better. I finally broke down and told him about the ISF calibration. Now he is going to get his done. I’ll let you know if he gets the same results! jim

Review by Tase, Sony 50A10 LCD RPTV Owner in CT

OK Guys

Sorry for the delay in the review.

First off, Gregg is a great guy. He was here exactly when he said he would be. Funny thing-I was still obsessing about the garbage bags, and had covered the slider completely, and shut the blinds on all other windows, and then realized that I could no longer look outside to see when Gregg arrived  I heard some noise a peeked out and he was here.

I guess I can not continue without discussing the said garbage bags. I left work an hour early to find then and put them up. I went to Wal-Mart and the only black bags they had was indeed industrial bags, but they were compacter bags, with a very small width. However they came all tied together so I was able to make the length as long as I needed. It took about 11 side by side to cover the slider completely. But they did the job. Then I was obsessing that the shades would not cut off enough light and started to cover them, and I got 2 strips done when Gregg arrived.

As soon as he walked in, he said “Oh this is plenty dark”  So all that obsessing for nothing. Now I have a lifetime supply of compacter bags, but I don’t even have a trash compacter.

Next as Gregg was starting to set up his awesome equipment, he asked for the original remotes. I knew I had them so I wasn’t concerned, but suddenly I could not locate the most important TV remote. Seeing that our house is a total disaster, clutter and messy wise, I couldn’t find the remote anywhere. Gregg told me to calm down he had faith I would find it. Well I did, but it took like 20 minutes, I was sweating bullets. (Thank you Gregg for not mentioning what bad shape the condo was). I asked him if it was the messiest he had seen, he said no then hesitated, so I think yes.

OK on to the calibration portion of our show.
Gregg set up his laptop in front of him in a position so I had an easy view of it. Then he set up some type of instrument panel devise on his left. Then he attached a suction cup stethoscope type thing directly in the center on the TV. He turned on the laptop and some incredible graphics came up. He thoroughly explained what everything stood for, and gave me some key definitions so I could attempt to understand what he was doing.

He showed me what the industry standards were and what my TV was showing. It was pretty far away from where is was supposed to be. Then he had to do some experimentation with the hidden menu selections, since it was his first A10. He took time to make sure he found all the menu items he was looking for. Even if it took going through the menu several times. He was diligent in his efforts to do and adjust everything he could.

With ever adjustment Gregg made he would show me exactly what he was doing and explained the end result of each. I was able to watch the monitor and watch the graphs, it was very cool and very informative. Of course the only thing I knew about was grayscale. I knew that the standard was 6500 degrees Kelvin. I believe we came very close.

Then he went through all advance settings on the regular TV menus. Again explaining everything as he went along. He mentioned that he could have left or been done, but he went back over every setting and even went and made some other changes. He made sure I was happy with the results and I assured him I was. We went through all the different TV inputs and the DVD player as well.

He was getting ready to leave and I reminded him quietly that he said he would help me make sure that my surround settings were correct on my A/V. Of course they were way off, and within a few minutes he fixed that for me. Calibration done, Gregg left, Mark was happy.

Now onto the big part of the review. How does it look? Well that is the reason I waited until now to do the review. Since most of the shows I watch are SD, I did not think it was fair to do a review of that, yet at the same time, I could not turn off the non-HD NESN (the Red Sox) network.

I had to wait to Sunday and the NFL. Since I don’t have the D* NFL Sunday Ticket, I went to my basic cable which now picks up the HD signal and OMG. The picture and color are too awesome to even describe. I don’t know what else to say except money well spent.

I can’t give it the old Night and Day because of very crappy SD PQ with D*. But when HD is on (even on D*) it is a beautiful sight to behold.

Thank you Gregg and everybody else who helped me with the decision. Absolutely no regrets.